A British woman with extreme Tourette Syndrome was fitted with a revolutionary "brain pacemaker" to rid her of debilitating muscle jerks that almost drove her to suicide.

Jayne Bargent was disabled by relentless and uncontrollable muscle movements that made it difficult for her to breathe and walk, and stopped her from driving, cooking and reading.

Related: Dealing With Tourette Syndrome

She was considering traveling to a suicide clinic in Switzerland when British surgeons started using an experimental treatment called deep brain stimulation, which is already used to treat some other neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

The complex operation involved drilling holes in Bargent's skull and inserting two tiny electrodes into her brain. A pacemaker was then fitted to her chest to allow doctors to send electrical impulses into her brain tissue.

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Around 40 minutes after the treatment, Bargent's muscle tics had almost completely disappeared.

"I couldn't imagine living the rest of my life as I was," she told Sky News on Friday. "I would have considered going over to Switzerland to Dignitas [suicide clinic] when it got to the stage where I just could not feel I could carry on."

"Now I have got my life back," she added. "We will be able to go out again and go for walks. It will have a huge impact on our lives."

Ludvic Zrinzo, the consultant neurosurgeon who carried out the operation, said doctors do not know for sure how the technique works.

"What we think is happening is that there is some disorganized information traveling through circuits in the brain," he said. "We are dampening these messages and allowing other parts of the brain to take over."

 

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